Tupac Shakur’s estate isn’t too happy about Drake cloning the late hip-hop legend’s voice in a Kendrick Lamar song. billboard reported On Wednesday, lawyer Howard King, representing Mr. Shakur’s estate, sent a cease and desist letter calling Drake’s use of Shakur’s voice “a gross violation of Tupac’s publicity and the estate’s legal rights.”

Drake (Aubrey Drake Graham) dropped out diss track “Taylor Made Freestyle” last Friday, the latest chapter in the artist’s body of work a smoldering decades-long feud with Pulitzer and 17-time Grammy Award winner Kendrick Lamar.

“Kendrick, we need you, the savior of the West Coast / Etching your name into some hip-hop history,” AI-generated 2Pac raps on Drake’s track. “If you handle it mean / You seem a little nervous about all the publicity.”

Representing Shakur’s estate, King wrote in the cease and desist letter that Drake has less than 24 hours to remove “Taylor Made Freestyle” or the estate will “pursue all of its legal remedies” to force the hand of the Canadian rapper. “The unauthorized, equally disturbing use of Tupac’s voice against Kendrick Lamar, a good friend of the estate who has given nothing but respect to Tupac and his legacy publicly and privately, compounds the offense,” King wrote, according to billboard.

“The estate is deeply troubled and disappointed by your unauthorized use of Tupac’s voice and persona,” King wrote. “The recording is not only a gross violation of Tupac’s publicity and legal rights of the estate, but also a gross abuse of the legacy of one of the greatest hip-hop artists of all time.” The estate would never give its approval for this use.

Rapper Snoop Dogg stands on podium with lyrics


“Taylor Made Freestyle” also uses AI to clone Snoop Dogg’s voice, with Drake using digital clones of two of Lamar’s West Coast hip-hop influences to try and hit him where it hurts. In a video posted on social media the next day, Snoop did not appear to know about the track. “What have they done? When? how? Are you sure?” said the 16-time Grammy nominee and herbal connoisseur. “Why is everyone calling my phone and blasting me? What the hell? What happened? What’s happening? I go back to bed. Good night,” he continued.

Engadget emailed Snoop Dogg’s management to ask what he thought about cloning Drake’s voice. At the time of publication, we have not received a response.

The saga contains more than a little irony — if not outright hypocrisy — from Universal Music Group (UMG), the label that represents Drake. You may remember the song “Heart on My Sleeve” by “Ghostwriter977” that briefly went viral last year. It was pulled after UMG complained to the streaming services because it used an AI-generated version of Drake’s voice (along with The Weeknd).

Engadget asked UMG if it approves of Drake’s use of AI-generated voices on “Taylor Made Freestyle” and how it stands on the broader issue of using digital clones of artists. We had not received a comment at press time. Without a clear explanation, it’s hard not to see that the label is siding with what appears to be the most financially beneficial for them at any given time (surprise!).

Laws regarding AI-cloned voices of public figures are still in flux. billboard notes that federal copyright does not clearly cover the issue because AI-generated vocals typically do not use specific words or music from the original artist. Mr. King, speaking on behalf of Shakur’s estate, believes they violate existing California publicity rights laws. He described Drake’s use of Shakur’s voice as creating “the false impression that the estate and Tupac were promoting or endorsing the lyrics for a similar sound.”

Last month, Tennessee passed The ELVIS (“Ensuring Voice and Image Security”) Act to protect artists from unauthorized AI voice clones. “First-of-its-kind legislation” makes copying a musician’s voice without consent a Class A felony.

But neither party involved in this feud is in Tennessee. At the federal level, things are moving much more slowly, leaving room for legal uncertainty. In January, bipartisan lawmakers in the US House of Representatives introduced The Artificial Intelligence Counterfeit and Unauthorized Duplication Act (“No AI SCAM”), putting cloned voices like the ones Drake used in the crosshairs of the government. Congress has not taken any public action on the bill in the more than three months since then.

“It’s hard to believe [Tupac’s record label]The intellectual property of was not deleted to create the fake AI Tupac on the recording,” King wrote in the cease and desist letter. It required Drake to offer “a detailed explanation of how the sound-alike was created and the individuals or company who created it, including any recordings and other data ‘deleted’ or used.”